New Path of Exile 2 Gameplay Shows Off Wild Builds And A More Story-Driven Campaign

The sequel to Grinding Gear Games' free-to-play action-RPG is still a ways out, but we now have new gameplay.


After teasing new content for the Path of Exile franchise, developer Grinding Gear Games has revealed new gameplay for Path of Exile 2, the sequel to its popular and growing free-to-play RPG. During a special developer livestream focusing on what's to come with Path of Exile, the developers gave fans the most thorough look at the game yet, which hasn't been seen since its reveal back at ExileCon 2019.

The new trailer and subsequent gameplay demo focused on the Act 2 section of Path of Exile 2, which is set in a vast desert filled with demons and other supernatural entities. Set sometime after the end of Path of Exile 1, the sequel's seven-act campaign will carry forth many of the intricate character building, gear customization, and open-ended exploration across its various maps.

Just before the livestream reveal, we got to see a preview of the game with commentary from Grinding Gear Games studio head Chris Wilson, who explained what's new with the game. Much like the current Path of Exile, and other Diablo-likes, the sequel focuses heavily on the loop of finding loot and procuring new gear for your characters. However, the sequel puts a more significant emphasis on building upon the original game's content, which includes a shared endgame across both games and a more present story throughout its levels in the seven acts. The new campaign will see your character team up with key figures in the overarching story, acquiring new loot from quests, and explore the more dense environments.

"Path of Exile 2 is a true sequel to Path of Exile, which means a new seven-act campaign, a whole new skill gem system, new items, new monsters, character classes, and all the Ascendancy classes are completely new," said Wilson during the presentation. "It's got cutting-edge next-generation graphics, as you just saw. Basically, it's everything you would expect from a sequel to Path of Exile. But we're not just throwing away our legacy; we're embracing it. Both campaigns [PoE 1 and 2] will be fully playable from within the same game client. You'll be able to play through the original Path of Exile storyline or the new Path of Exile 2 campaign on the way to the shared endgame. All of your old characters will still be playable and of course, any microtransaction purchases you made in Path of Exile will carry on to the sequel."

While certain aspects of player progress from PoE 1 will carry over, the sequel will have you start fresh with a new character. Along with new gameplay updates such as new weapon classes like the spear, and a new gem upgrade system, Path of Exile 2 also has an entirely new graphics engine and animation system that gives the game a noticeably more pronounced and dynamic than its predecessor. Some sections of the gameplay demo even featured more cinematic touches, with cameras taking more sweeping shots and angles to showcase the environment's depth of scale. The original Path of Exile released almost 10 years ago, and it was impressive to see the jump in visual fidelity and quality for its sequel.

Path of Exile 2 looks to carry on what made the original such a well-liked game within its community. While the demo shown for Path of Exile 2 was impressive, the sequel is still far from release. During an extended talk with Wilson after the presentation, he stated that the COVID-19 pandemic had slowed the sequel's development more than they expected, but in recent months, progress on the game has picked up.

"[Development] is going well, but the two problems we had in 2020 was the pandemic itself, which was very disruptive and wasn't great for the productivity of the team, but also because it prevented us from hiring more people to the team," he said. "The other problem we ran into was the amount of work that went into the various expansions for Path of Exile 1. While that was great for PoE1 and the community, that sort of paralyzed the team and our work on the sequel, so we've been smarter about using our limited resources now. The pace of the development on the sequel has picked up, and it does feel like there's the light at the end of the tunnel now."

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It seems the isometric Diablo-style action-RPG has been on the upswing in recent years, and Chris Wilson from Grinding Gear Games is pleased that the genre is flourishing. During our chat, Wilson spoke candidly about the popularity of Path of Exile's direct competitor, the Diablo series, and how the latest reveals for Diablo IV has resulted in increased interest for Path of Exile.

"So whenever another competitor gets press, that actually ends up helping our game as we found out, he said. "In the case of Diablo IV, that's not a game you can play today, but you can play Path of Exile. Our goal is to be free, be good, and just hope for people who want to play action RPGs. But I am incredibly excited about Diablo II: Resurrected--I cannot understate how much I'm excited about it."

For more on Path of Exile, be sure to check back with GameSpot for more info from the on going livestream.

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